Judging from the breathless headlines, you’d think taking “dabs” — or hits of marijuana extract — started this Summer.

But VICE and High Times correspondent and co-founder of The Hash, David Bienenstock, is here to puncture the hype:


Invented around 1970 by a member of the legendary Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a group of outlaw surfer/smugglers who also helped spread LSD worldwide, this “butane honey oil” is a kind of viscous goo that, using modern techniques, can occasionally top 90% THC.

Thanks to the Brotherhood, “Butane hash oil” or “BHO” briefly turned heads on the American market about 40 years ago, but then the supply suddenly dried up.

Turns out a honey oil refinery run by an Afghani syndicate exploded in Kabul. That halted production, and tipped off the U. S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to the brotherhood’s smuggling activities. The explosion also offered a lethal foreshadowing of things to come, both in Afghanistan and here in America. Because let’s be perfectly clear about this: Outside the hands of qualified professionals, using proper equipment and procedures, BHO production is extremely dangerous. People have been killed and severely injured making it incorrectly, or simply living next door to someone who did.”

In places like Colorado and Washington state, the government now licenses extract makers, who must pass inspection and operate in accordance with strict regulations. But even when produced safely and acquired legally, novice users should still exercise caution when ingesting dabs. I’ve seen literal legends of cannabis temporarily reduced to mental rubble by too much of this stuff inhaled too quickly, so I hate to think what that must do to a novice.
Anyway, all that said, there’s surely no denying the pleasures of the product when properly made and consumed with some moderation. The best dabs hit the palate with a fresh blast of flavor, followed by an intense, clear high that begins in your forehead and spreads from there like a pool of warmth. Inexperienced users should start small, with a dab about half the size of a grain of rice, consumed while well hydrated and fully seated. And they should wait at least thirty minutes before taking another.
Because going one toke over the line with dabs is really like going ten tokes over the line.
I’m David Bienenstock, and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.

[Clarification: The Hash made an error in stating the Brotherhood of Eternal Love was using the solvent butane when making cannabis concentrates (aka “honey oil”) in the 1970s. BOEL used a different, liquid, flammable, chemical solvent (not butane) to manufacture chemical solvent hash. The Hash notes “earlier oils like SMASH or The One” circulated even earlier then the honey oil from the BOEL.]